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Denver middle school asks parents to help with campus security

The principal of McAuliffe International shared "near-term improvements" to safety less than a month after a shooting at East High.

DENVER — In a letter sent to families on Friday, the principal at McAuliffe International School outlines "near-term improvements" to school safety measures as the community waits to learn Denver Public Schools' comprehensive safety plan.

Principal Kurt Dennis emailed the school safety letter less than a month after a student at East High School shot two administrators who were patting him down for weapons.

Days after that shooting, Dennis told 9NEWS his school also has to perform daily pat downs on a student accused of attempted first-degree murder and illegal discharge of a firearm.

In his April 14 letter to families, Dennis said McAuliffe International would like to have adults present at exterior doors and regularly checking to make sure they are locked. They also want an adult at the main entrance to greet visitors and run their ID through the security system before they're allowed in the building.

The letter provides a link to a form for parents to sign up to volunteer.

"Our hope is that if enough adults sign up for a volunteer shift, we can address these areas for the duration of this school year," Dennis says in the letter.

Adults who are providing supervision and security outside the school building will wear bright yellow vests so students can identify them.

"I think as long as there is some good guidance on what those expectations are, and obviously you have people that want to help for the right reasons, I think it is most likely a step in the right direction," said Paul Ballenger, a father of a student at McAuliffe. "I know I have seen a lot of parents who really do want to try to help. They don't know how to help."

During the next school year, McAuliffe International will be adding another half-time psychologist.

Credit: KUSA

The middle school will also stop selling hoodies as part of the school uniform.

"Students wearing hoodies are difficult to recognize, and the pockets in front are used to store items out of sight from our staff," Dennis says in the letter. "Fortunately, crew neck sweatshirts are back in style, so hopefully, students won't protest this change in fashion too much."

Change is what parents are asking for inside Denver Public Schools. These are steps one campus is trying to make as parents look for changes districtwide.

"I do feel better but at the same time I feel the district, there's a tremendous amount of work to be done," Ballenger said.

Parents of DPS students will hold another meeting outside East High on Monday morning to demand transparency from the school board as the district creates a safety plan.

This meeting will take place hours before Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero will provide an update on safety changes in the district. A presentation posted on the district's website shows the first draft of that plan will be released on May 1. The final version will be released on June 26, according to the presentation.


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